Before we get to legislative news, I want to wish a happy St. Patrick’s Day to McFriends and O’Neighhbors in District 29A as we celebrate the legacy of the person who brought Christianity to Ireland.
As for official House business, the biggest topic of discussion this week is House Democrats blocked a last-ditch Republican effort Monday to vote on bipartisan Senate legislation that could have prevented a tax increase from taking place despite a historic state surplus.
The issue pertains to the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund that was depleted with more people out of work during the pandemic. The federal government provided funding to the state to keep the program afloat and now that debt of more than $1 billion is due.
Gov. Tim Walz, House Republicans, Senate Republicans, and most Senate Democrats support passing a clean bill to fully replenish the UI funds. The Senate one month ago approved by a veto-proof majority legislation to do so.
But House Democrats continued to withhold that bill through the March 15 deadline. House Republicans moved to declare urgency on the matter Monday and take up the Senate bill for a vote but, for the second time in the past week, House Democrats blocked the effort. Now, a tax increase is set to take place to pay the state’s federal debt despite the fact Minnesota has a surplus of around $10 billion.
House Democrats continue to try to pass off the tax increase they are responsible for creating as no big deal. To the contrary, a recent article quotes Greater Minnesota employers saying they face tax increases in the tens of thousands of dollars next year. A 130% increase in one reported case translates to a $21,000 spike.
It is very disappointing to see House Democrats play politics with this bill by holding it back as a negotiating chip to play against unrelated subjects. Even if the House majority eventually agrees to pass this legislation, it is completely unnecessary and irresponsible to Minnesotans to turn this into a game.
People already are paying more for gas, to buy groceries and pretty much everything else under the sun these days. Our focus should be on providing tax relief with a massive state surplus. The state is fully funded for this biennium. The nearly $10 billion in surplus revenue obviously was not part of the equation then and these dollars should not be viewed as a license for the government to go back and find ways to spend more. Instead, these dollars should go back to overtaxed Minnesotans in the form of meaningful, permanent relief.
On another note, there was a press conference today to unveil a bill (H.F. 4252) I have co-authored to crack down on non-profits, like the Minnesota Freedom Fund, from registering in the state of Minnesota for the purposes of providing payments to a person or state court to help criminals pay for bail.
As crime continues to skyrocket, the Minnesota Freedom Fund has a record of making bail payments for criminals who commit other crimes following their release. Crimes committed by these repeat offenders include murder, sexual assault, and assault. One criminal supported by the Minnesota Freedom Fund was an alleged domestic abuser who murdered a man following his release on bail.
Until next time, have a good weekend and please stay in touch.